Cross-posted from Patreon:
I’m sure like most of you – you are scratching your head to explain what happened last night, and how Bill Shorten lost the Federal Election (when only months ago most people thought he would romp it home in a landslide).
Read on and enjoy my thoughts:
1. Climate Change isn’t the #1 issue
Contrary to what the main stream media were feeding the population – climate change isn’t the number one issue facing Australians. Unfortunately those people in the ‘politics industry’ live in a bubble where they somehow think if they are talking about it – people around the country must be talking about it too. To me – the number one issue in Australia is our rampant population growth, leading to anemic wages growth, and significant rises to the cost of living (in particular housing and energy).
What the Labor Party was essentially asking people to do was to ‘pay more tax’ whilst also accepting ‘more people’ (through it’s Big Australia @ 50 million policy). The prospect that outside of some inner urban seats people would vote to either lose more jobs or pay more tax (through the introduction of climate change measures) without any guarantee of higher incomes is the problem.
Yes – Climate change is happening, but Australia is not a big polluter, nor do we have the economic clout to show leadership on this issue (given our budget situation and record low wages growth). To put it simply – Labor’s constant bleating about climate change fell on deaf ears across most of Middle Australia
2. Policy agenda was too complex and too aggressive
Labor tried to do too much at once. Having such a broad policy agenda set them up for criticism on too many fronts – and didn’t give them enough oxygen in the media narrative to sell the case for change. The whole Franking Credits policy is a classic example of this – where Labor set themselves up to have a fight with baby boomers, the very people they needed to convince to vote Labor in order to secure governments. Had they focused on other policy initiatives (in particular around jobs and wages growth) – and parked the fight on Franking Credits until their second year in government – it would have been much smarter political strategy.
At the risk of being rude – Australian’s do not like complex policy. Most people in middle Australia do not have the IQ to understand it in detail anyway. Middle Australia responds to three word slogans – Tony Abbott proved this. Campaigning by the Liberal Party on Retiree Tax, Death Tax, Housing Tax and keeping it simple for the lower IQ’s in middle Australia is part of reason Labor lost the election.
3. Right policies (in some cases) but wrong time.
Some of the policies that Labor took to the election (especially around negative gearing and franking credits) were the right policy to help bring the budget back to balance – but they were executed at the wrong time. Why on earth would any political party want to change negative gearing rules at a time where property prices are already 10%+ down in our capital cities? Everyone knows that removing negative gearing is going to put downward pressure on house prices, and trying to introduce this change at a time the property market is already suffering is madness.
A person’s house is generally their biggest asset – no one wants to see a reduction in its value (especially the 65% of people in Australia that either own a house outright or are paying it off). Don’t get me wrong, we do have to change our negative gearing policies – but it should be introduced at a time where the housing market is going up 10%+ per annum (like it was between 2010-2016) so people didn’t feel as big of a threat to the impact on their own personal wealth. Like the above with franking credits – I would have parked this initiative for a year or two until such a time the property market had bounced back into positive territory.
If Labor ran it’s election campaign on the simple slogan “we will grow your wages”and parked some of its bigger agenda items until we were in better economic times – it would have likely secured government.
4. Bill Shorten was the wrong leader.
I’ve said this for months to anyone who cares to listen – Bill Shorten is a drab speaker with the personality of a wet rag. I have no doubt he is an intellectual man and also a great party man – but he doesn’t connect with Australian people. His speeches are often scripted, and this was no truer then when he spoke after the passing of Bob Hawke. You would think in a moment like that – Bill Shorten could say a few words to the media off the cuff – but instead he still read from a prepared script. During the live debates on TV with Scott Morrison – he was holding onto paper notes and reading scripts – whereas Morrison was speaking unscripted and often in simpler tones that more easily resonate with middle Australia.
To put it simply – if you walked into most pubs in Australia and asked the drinks “if you had to choose to have a beer with Bill Shorten or Scott Morrison – which one would you choose?” – I suspect a majority would choose to have a beer with Morrison.
The Preferred PM opinion polls for Shorten were always shocking. No one has ever become Prime Minister with a preferred PM approval rate of less than 30% during an election campaign while in opposition. It’s important to remember that Kim Beazley lost elections whilst being a preferred PM over John Howard. Labor tragics kept telling me for weeks “Oh, it doesn’t matter who the leader is – people vote for policy” – which of course is a load of bullshit. The number one rule of business is “people buy off people”, and the number one rule of politics is “people vote for people”.
Shorten was on the nose during the Gillard & Rudd years (being the man behind knifing two sitting Prime Ministers), and he should have been disposed of after losing the last election to Malcolm Turnbull. The fact that Labor powerbrokers seemed to think that Bill Shorten was the best person to lead the party is a complete insult to some of the other talented people within the Labor movement.
5. Labor has only ever won government when it’s done well in Queensland.
The reason that Kevin Rudd became Prime Minister was because he resonated with Queenslanders (whilst also doing well around other parts of the country). No Labor Government has ever won parliament without winning a swathe of seats in Queensland. This was never going to happen this time, with One Nation and United Australia Party picking up significant chunks of the primary vote in Queensland (and the likely preference flows to LNP candidates).
Queenslanders are an interesting bunch – and you don’t need to look much past Bob Katter and Pauline Hanson to understand that people up north love someone who isn’t afraid to speak their mind, and speak off script. Bill Shorten weak drab crafted messages simply don’t resonate with Queenslanders. Also Labor’s policies were crafted as anti-Queensland.
In large parts of regional Queensland, mining plays a key role in the prosperity of families. Introduce a carbon price, and stop the Adani project, whilst at the same time more heavily taxing families that earn good money from mining – is a recipe for disaster. We only had to have a look at the worker from the Gladstone Port who was sacked because he challenged Shorten on this very issue. It was another case of Shorten losing focus on middle Australia – particularly in the regions.
6. People can’t see the difference between The Greens and Labor
Let’s face it – the Greens and Labor are basically a coalition now. Their policies are the same in many cases – in particular around social causes (such as ‘safe schools’ and ‘transgender rights’). Many voters in middle-Australia have watched Labor lurch further and further to the left in recent years. Middle Australia doesn’t care for transgender rights, or more LGBTQI acceptance.
They care for jobs, and they care for more money in their pockets. There are swathes of ex-Labor voters in outer-suburbia and the regional areas that voted for Clive Palmer and Pauline Hanson because they feel abandoned by Labor’s shift the left to secure Green preferences. Labor’s challenge in the next three years is to secure its own identity again.
7. Labor are no longer the workers party
As mentioned above – Labor is supposed to be the workers party. We are experiencing record low wages growth – so where the hell is Labors wages strategy? They had bold policy on negative gearing and franking credits – but no bold policy on how to increase wages!
Where is the plan like “we will increase public sector wages by 10% per annum for the next 5 years (50% in total) to help kick start wages growth across the private sector”?
That’s right – nowhere.
Labor has abandoned it’s position as the workers party for middle Australia, and instead panders to social and globalist causes instead. Labor would not have lost this election if they had a bold strategy about delivering strong wages growth (and left the other policy initiatives on the shelf until later in their term of government).
8. State Election warning signs
Labor lost the South Australian election, and Labor also lost the New South Wales election. There have been some warning signs for a while that the Labor brand (outside of ‘inclusive Victoria’) is on the nose around the country.
With a shadow cabinet comprising of Labor leaders all from inner-urban seats in Melbourne and Sydney – it’s pretty easy to see how they got out of touch with what middle-Australia wanted. They didn’t heed the state election warnings!
9. New Australians generally vote for conservative parties.
Finally – and the most important thing to consider is the changing demographics of Australia. Chinese people have conservative values. Middle Eastern people have conservative values. To put it simply – the large majority of new Australian’s coming to Australia (Chinese, Indian, Middle Eastern) do not care about climate change and gay rights. They also hate paying tax (how many of their businesses are cash only!).
New Australia is changing, and it’s changing for the more conservative. The people who are drawn to this country are largely here to pay as little tax as they can, and milk as much as they can from government at the same time. They generally hate gays, and they don’t understand why climate change is an issue in Australia because they generally arrive from countries with much higher pollution levels! It used to be the case that migrants were much more likely to vote Labor (because they were the workers party), but these days migrants are much more likely to vote Liberal.
I’ve said this for a long time – but I’m increasingly of the belief that we have reached ‘peak equality’ in Australia – given we increasingly import more and more people from countries with conservative societies.
So in summary Labor had the following.
The wrong leader, with the wrong policies, at the wrong time.